The Rapture of believers has long been a controversial topic. Some believe that it is a myth and that it will never happen. They usually belong to a group of people that shies away from studying and/or teaching Bible prophecy for various reasons, and that would mean that we ignore about 25% of the Bible. Others believe in the Rapture happening, but simply place it at different times in the prophetic future, and some others would like to alter the way it will take place and who it will include. This has led to a lot of faulty views that are not doing justice to the doctrine of the Rapture. One of these views, circulating in some circles, claims that some Christians WILL NOT be included in the Rapture. This view is also known as the “Partial Rapture” view. Is there validity to that view at all, and who would be excluded?
The word “Rapture” is not found in the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures, but this doesn’t mean that the concept is not real. The word “Trinity” also doesn’t appear anywhere in Scripture, and yet, Orthodox Christianity has the monotheistic belief in a triune Godhead including the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Rapture comes from the latin raptus, meaning “to snatch up or seize.” It is found 14 times in the New Testament as the word harpazo. While the Rapture itself isn’t spoken of in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), there are some examples of individuals being snatched up or raptured by God such as Enoch (Genesis 5:24) or Elijah (2 Kings 2.) There are also several instances of individuals being taken-up in the New Testament, but we need to concentrate on the events surrounding the future Rapture of the Body of Messiah (all believers in Yeshua of Nazareth.)
The most common view of the Rapture is that of a descending of the Lord Yeshua in the sky (without touching down to earth) and a snatching up of all the believers on earth–dead or alive. It is based on two key passages of the Bible: 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. People see that event happening at various times around the events of the Great Tribulation (prior, during or after, being the three main views.) I adhere to a view of the last days that places the Rapture first, then the seven-year Tribulation (also known as the seventieth week of Daniel), followed by the Second Coming of Yeshua and the 1000-year Millennial Kingdom of Messiah on earth from Jerusalem.
In this view, believers are taken up to be with Yeshua prior to any other event of the end times. They are protected by God from any harm that will be inflicted upon unbelievers during the Great Tribulation also known as the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble.” Such an event is imminent, it could happen at any moment, and yet, nobody knows the exact time of the event. Even though many have speculated and written a myriad of books dating the Rapture, nobody knows the day or the hour. We are assured of the imminency of the event by passages such as John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 1 Corinthians 1:7 and Titus 2:13. Author Renald Showers said it best in Maranatha, Our Lord Comes:” Other events may happen before the imminent return, but nothing else must take place before it happens.” I could continue to substantiate the pre-Tribulational, pre-Millennial view of the Rapture, but I am more interested in looking at who will be included and who will be excluded in that future event.
It should be obvious that the Rapture is seen as a reward for believers who will be protected from God’s wrath. That should never mean that because believers know that they will be snatched up before things get really bad, that we shouldn’t care. The opposite couldn’t be truer! Because we will be taken, and the unbelievers will be left behind, we should double up our efforts to share the Good News with the lost, so that many more can join in this epic upcoming event and be sheltered from the Great Tribulation. It should also be clear that those included in the Rapture–and this being whenever it takes place–are believers only. By this we mean those who have placed their trust in the death and resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah for their sins.
In spite of all the biblical evidence, there are people who believe that the Rapture will only include some Christians but not all. I have a serious problem with that view. It was recently brought to my attention while I was listening to a very popular teacher on prophecy who was speaking about Israel, gentiles and end-times. At some point in the message, it was said that:”Christians who hate Israel will not be included in the Rapture.” While I philosophically would agree with the exclusion of some believers in the Rapture, biblically, I simply cannot. Let me explain.
I have been a student of and teacher against antisemitism in all of its forms over the last several thousand years. As a result, I am painfully aware of Christian antisemitism over the centuries. By definition, Christian antisemitism means that one can be a follower of Messiah or a Christian and have resentment or hatred against the Jewish people. Their maturity as believers might be put in question, but their salvation shouldn’t. We come to Messiah by believing in the power of Yeshua’s atoning death and His blood shed on the cross on our behalf. That process is known as justification. Next comes a process that will take place for the rest of the life of the believer, and that is known as sanctification, when we are progressively made in the image of Messiah, until we are in our perfect glorified body, in God’s presence. Sanctification takes time and its progressive work is different in everyone. An antisemitic Christian is toxic to the Jewish community and negatively influential to the Christian community, and yet, they remain a Christian, saved by grace through the blood of Yeshua.
If the Nazi officer who pushed my grandfather to his death in Auschwitz was led to Yeshua moments before his death, he will be in heaven with me for all of eternity. In my still fallen human nature, I despise him, and I hate the possibility of his salvation, but biblically, I cannot avoid the reality of his inclusion in the family of God if he had indeed come to faith in Yeshua. Similarly, in Luke 23:42-43, the thief on the cross didn’t have any time to review his deeds and hang-ups when he placed his trust in Yeshua for his salvation. He simply turned his head, looked at Yeshua and asked Him to remember him: “And he was saying, “Yeshua, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” The thief had no time to revisit his life in detail or denounce and reject any hatred or prejudice he might have had. In his case, there was not time for earthly sanctification, but he was in God’s family nonetheless.
When I became a believer in the 1980s, it took me several years of maturing in the Lord and reading the Word to change my view on abortion. I used to be 100% pro-choice, but I am now convinced that the Bible teaches 100% pro-life. I was not less of a believer then, I was just a baby believer and had the Rapture occurred at that time, I would have been included, just the same way that the potential “saved Nazi officer” would have been included, had he become a follower of Yeshua.
So, when I hear someone saying that “Christians who hate Israel will not be included in the Rapture”, I cringe. I agree that Christian antisemitism is a real problem, but the only way these people will be excluded is if they are Christians in name only and have not given their lives to Yeshua, but that is a very different group of people.
To say that there will be a partial Rapture, is not new. It is a view from the mid-1800s, based on the idea of obedience and watching for Messiah’s return. It is built on verses such as Matthew 24:40-51 and 25:1-13, to name just a couple. But it is a faulty view that according to Richard Mayhue in Christ’s Prophetic Plan, would also necessitate a partial resurrection and require an earthly purgatory–two concepts found nowhere in Scripture.
Alongside the concept of a partial Rapture, another passage is often cited to prove that hating the Jews will exclude Christians from the Millennial Kingdom. That passage is found in Matthew 25:31-46 and is known as the Judgement of the sheep and the goats. In it, Yeshua says that those who helped Jews (the sheep) during the Great Tribulation are akin to having helped Him, “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Additionally, Yeshua speaks of those who didn’t help (the goats), as receiving eternal punishment in verse 46.
Two things need to be understood from this passage. First, this is taking place during the Tribulation and has no connection to the Rapture, and secondly, the people who will help the Jews during the Tribulation will be doing it because they themselves have become believers after being left behind, thus after the Rapture. They will not help in an effort to gain acceptance from God unto salvation, but as a result of their late salvation and understanding of the need to help and bless Jewish people, otherwise, this would mean that we can work for our salvation, another doctrine not found in the Bible.
There is simply no validity to the statement that “Christians who hate Israel will not be included in the Rapture”. We can go as far as saying that hating Israel is akin to hating God, and we get that idea from Psalm 83:3-5, “They make shrewd plans against Your people, And conspire together against Your treasured ones. They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, That the name of Israel be remembered no more.” For they have conspired together with one mind; Against You they make a covenant.”
It is clear that when one conspires against Israel, one conspires against the God of Israel Who is our God. As much as I wish it were, Christian antisemitism is not an oxymoron. It is the unfortunate result of our fallen nature, lack of maturity and ignorance. It can and should be fought with prayer and education.